Seniors Housing and Skilled Nursing Could Be Investor Favorites

Skilled nursing sectors investor favorites, a new report from Marcus & Millichap predicts.

Third quarter data showed that seniors housing move-ins are rising as more residents become vaccinated, with occupancy rising in both segments from July through September. Rents are also up annually by more than 1% across all four levels of care, led by memory care and assisted living.

Skilled nursing’s recovery was a bit more muted, with occupancy at 76.2% in November, down 1,000 basis points over 2019 numbers. But nationally, the average daily rate has increased or held firm in every quarter for more than a decade.

“But the near-term future is opaque with the pandemic still creating uncertainty,” Marcus & Millichap’s Benjamin Kunde notes. “However, seniors housing and skilled nursing facilities remain a key piece of the care spectrum, and the current environment may present unique favorable circumstances for investors. Temporary hurdles coincide with longer-term tailwinds that are becoming more apparent.”

Development has eased as of late, with less than 48,000 seniors housing units breaking ground in October, a 30% decrease from the typical pace. But Kunde says “robust demand is on the horizon, potentially outpacing supply and powering occupancy improvement.” In particular, aging baby boomers are likely to push a demand surge in the future, and they have money to spend: some estimates say the segment holds more than half of all US wealth.

One potential headwind? Labor shortages, which continue to plague both segments. A study by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living shows that three-fourths of respondents believe the staffing situation for assisted living has gotten worse from midyear through September.

“Many operators are utilizing higher compensation to attract staff, which is costly at a time when insurance fees have increased and infrastructure improvements are needed for virus containment,” Kunde notes. “Furthermore, some operators are allocating funds to ramp up marketing efforts, as many facilities are trying to fill rooms at the same time. Endeavors to entice prospective residents are especially important in the near term, as move-ins should accelerate once a broader return to workplaces reduces the number of people able to provide at-home care.”

Meanwhile, investors who pressed pause during the pandemic have a stash of capital and are reentering the market. Sales volume has matched the 2020 total already, and Kunde predicts that momentum will continue as owners list properties following the end of government stimulus funds which helped keep the industry afloat.

“The cost of capital remains low, and potential interest rate hikes and tax changes on the horizon could drive sales activity in the near term,” Kunde says. “Still, many investors are taking a cautionary approach as various short-term headwinds are lingering. Uncertainty in the marketplace and ongoing price discovery adds a wrinkle to getting deals done.”


Source: GlobeSt.

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